Author: David Hewson
Category: Crime & Mystery – Police Procedural
Hardcover: 288 pages
Roman police detective Nic Costa has been sent undercover to Italy’s beautiful, remote Calabrian coast to bring in the head of the feared mob, the ‘Ndrangheta, who has offered to turn state witness for reasons of his own.
Hoping to reel in the biggest prize the state police have seen in years, the infamous Butcher of Palermo, Costa and his team are aware the stakes are high. But the constant deception is taking its toll. Out of their depth in a lawless part of Italy where they are the outcasts, not the men in the hills, with their shotguns and rough justice, the detectives find themselves pitched as much against one another as the mob. As the tension rises, it’s clear the operation is not going to plan. Is Nic Costa getting too close to the enemy for comfort – and is there a traitor among them …?
From: Part One
At three o’clock on a sweltering late summer afternoon Emmanuel Akindele sat behind the counter of the Zanzibar feeding Jackson the marmoset his first fierce cocktail of the day.
A thin, nervy thirty-year-old, Emmanuel had been rescued off Lampedusa the previous spring. Two thousand dollars that cost him to the Libyan people smugglers, pretty much all his family back home in a Lagos slum possessed. He’d thought himself dead already by the time the Red Cross boat came along and pulled him from a sea so cold it seemed to freeze his bones.
Now, in a kind of life, he spent hour upon hour with this sad and savage little animal, a miserable bundle of bone and fur, barely the size of a cat. Something trapped and helpless, and probably beyond hope. The creature kept thrusting a skinny arm through the bars of its rusty metal cage, holding out a grubby shot glass. A simian alcoholic and Emmanuel couldn’t think of anything else but to dull its senses in place of his own.
He’d inherited Jackson when the gang boss put him into the Zanzibar nine months earlier, after he’d earned what the mob men called promotion from pushing cheap counterfeit bags to the tourists on the beach at Locri. The creature was part of the furniture in the cramped, windowless bar, like the broken Playboy pin table, the cheap paintings of Marilyn Monroe, the satellite TV system with an illegal card to pick up premium sports channels from around the world.
He’d thought about letting the monkey go. About driving out of the grey and sprawling city to one of the bare back roads that led to the desolate hills rising from the coast. There the sparse tracts of scrappy brown vegetation reminded him of the countryside back home. He could see himself taking the cage out of the boot and watching the scrawny broken animal limp off into the dry, barren lower reaches of Aspromonte, the sprawling mountain that rose behind Italy’s extended toe like the humped back of a slumbering giant.
Jackson would be a corpse in a few hours, a day at most. Nothing foreign lived long in that bleak wasteland. Some things were dead before they even got there. The gang men who employed him, members of the Calabrian mafia, the ’Ndrangheta, saw the place, with its wildernesses full of snakes and spiders and, some said, wolves too, as their natural home. The worst thing that could happen to a man was to be told he was going for a ‘walk in the hills’. You never came back. This was where the mobsters took their victims, where they hid the men and women they kidnapped for money, slicing off a finger or an ear when they needed to raise the temperature a little. Even life in a cage, begging for drinks, getting laughed at by the scum who made up the Zanzibar’s clientele, was better than abandonment in that brutal, inhospitable expanse of desolate rock and thorns.
About the Author
David Hewson is a former journalist with The Times, The Sunday Times and the Independent. He is the author of more than twenty-five novels including his Rome-based Nic Costa series which has been published in fifteen languages. He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series, The Killing. He lives near Canterbury in Kent.
I would like to thank Mr. Hewson, Severn House Publishers, and Love Books Group Tours for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. Please feel free to stop by and check out the other bloggers that are on this tour! See the list below!